Layering, composites, etc.

Joined
Mar 8, 2009
Messages
5,175
Location
florida's east coast
I have a minor learning/attention span issue and I'd like to learn how to do layering and how to combine two images into one. No music, distracting graphics or annoying youtube instructors, I'm just looking for a stripped down step by step lesson. All I have is ps6, and all I do is some minor sharpening, a little cloning, and cropping/resizing.Thanks in advance.
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Messages
19,548
Location
Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
Just drag one file over the other in PS. The trick then is the layer masking to blend the two images together.

Bobby: To pick up on Mitch's advice indicating that creating the mask can be tricky, consider eliminating the need for a mask at least until you get the hang of working with multiple image files and multiple layers.

To make that happen, plan on erasing part of an image to allow the other image to show through it. Once you've planned which image you want to partially erase, place that image in a layer that is on top of the layer containing the other image. Reduce the opacity of the top layer enough that you can see the content in the bottom layer showing through a bit. That's because being able to see the contents of the bottom layer will show you which parts of the top layer you want to erase and, perhaps more importantly, which parts you don't want to erase. Using the Eraser tool, erase the parts of the top layer that need to be eliminated. Once you're done erasing, return the top layer to 100% opacity.

TIP #1: Make sure the eraser tool itself (as opposed to the layer) is set to 100% opacity. Otherwise, you'll wonder why everything you want to erase is still partially displayed. I've made that mistake countless times.

TIP #2: Do your erasing in small portions. That's because if you accidentally erase something you didn't want to erase, you can go into the history and delete the last erasure. If that last erasure was a small portion of the image, you only have that small portion to erase again.

Once you get the hang of that, my experience was that transitioning to making everything happen by creating a mask became easier. That's because the motor skills needed to fine tune the mask are the same as when carefully determining the boundaries of where you erase.

Sorry that I only have the most recent version of Photoshop. Otherwise, I would give you a step-by-step tutorial using PS6.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 22, 2019
Messages
2,397
Location
Jupiter, FL
Real Name
Andy
@bobbyv, you're entering a world of PhotoShop that is truly powerful. Try this as a starting point:
  1. Bring both images into PS.
  2. Drag one to the other and that should give you two layers.
  3. Select the eraser tool.
  4. Select the top layer.
  5. In the location where something differs, start erasing the portions of the top layer to reveal the bottom.
Think of this as the eraser deleting pixels or "cutting a hole" in the top layer to reveal what lies underneath.

This is the simplest way to combine two images, but is considered "destructive." That simply means your are changing pixels in a way that cannot be undone. Needless to say, your original file remains intact, so you can start again, but within PS, the erased pixels will be gone. Nevertheless, it can be sufficient to get the job done in many cases.

For example, if you did a two-frame burst of a group posing for a portrait, and the first image is overall better than the second with the exception of one person's eyes being closed, you could use this technique to erase the face of the blinker to reveal the lower layer for just that person.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2010
Messages
3,976
Location
UK
I would strongly suggest that you do not use the eraser tool. As already stated that is part of a destructive workflow and you can only go back in history in your current session and then only revert to an earlier edit in the linear history.

A much better way is to adopt a non destructive workflow by using layers and layer masks. Painting on a layer mask is easy and reversible at any time even if you close your layered document and start again at a later date.

To apply a non destructive 'erasure' of a portion of your top image just add a layer mask and paint on the mask with black, that portion will be effectively erased but still reversible by painting over the black on the mask with white. Once you have saved your layered image you can return at any time and correct or refine your masking

Just remember the mantra "Black conceals White reveals"

EDIT: Quick play to show the simplest composite layer structure. Background layer sunset top layer a couple of whales (apology to Welsh friends as I made a mistake before this edit 🙄) with a layer mask - note the layer mask painted black to conceal the sky. Once you have this down you can refine away using masking and blurring feathering the mask/brush edges to get gentle or strong transitions
SimpleComposite.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Bobby, I stand by what I stated paint non destructively (i.e. reversibly) on a layer mask for simple jobs. Using the erase tool is final and non reversible after you close a photoshop session so you would need to start again from scratch if you change your mind or find a mistake later
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Messages
19,548
Location
Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
A much better way is to adopt a non destructive workflow by using layers and layer masks. Painting on a layer mask is easy

If I thought painting on a layer mask is easy, I wouldn't have suggested using the Eraser tool the very first time at trying to make this happen.

Bobby: Be aware that there are methods of masking other than painting a layer mask. Depending on what you are masking, one particular method may be better than another particular method. That's something to think about if you decide to make composites at least every once in awhile. For now, I recommend not bringing on a headache by considering all the methods of making a mask.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2010
Messages
3,976
Location
UK
If I thought painting on a layer mask is easy, I wouldn't have suggested using the Eraser tool the very first time at trying to make this
Painting on a layer mask is no more difficult than painting with the erasure tool. So why do you think that the destructive workflow with erasure easier?

Bobby, I stand by what I stated paint non destructively (i.e. reversibly) on a layer mask for simple jobs. Using the erase tool is final and non reversible after you close a photoshop session so you would need to start again from scratch if you change your mind or find a mistake later
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Messages
19,548
Location
Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
Painting on a layer mask is no more difficult than painting with the erasure tool.

I understood your thinking about that the first time you mentioned it. I disagree. Using an eraser was easier for me as a first-time user because I didn't have to learn whether to paint with black or white and how to ensure that I was actually painting with the color I thought I was painting with.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2010
Messages
3,976
Location
UK
I understood your thinking about that the first time you mentioned it. I disagree. Using an eraser was easier for me as a first-time user because I didn't have to learn whether to paint with black or white and how to ensure that I was actually painting with the color I thought I was painting with.
OK, but the question was
So why do you think that the destructive workflow with erasure easier?

I see you edited the post to explain why you disagree. Using masking and painting is so easy once the mantra Black conceals white reveals is understood and in learning should be a foundation of non destructive workflow as a just in case precaution
 
Joined
May 3, 2007
Messages
6,823
Location
Colorado Springs, Colorado
My go-to reference has been Matt Klowkowsi's book, Layers, but that book is a bit long in the tooth. The info is almost a decade old (although the fundamentals of using layers in Photoshop have not changed lots of new tools and techniques have been introduced in the intervening years.) The Kindle version is twenty bucks and Amazon lets you peek inside for free. Worth a look, IMO. (Kloskowski seems to have moved on to ON1.)

Similarly, Robin Whalley's book, Mastering Photoshop Masks, is available in a Kindle edition for seven bucks. I have not read this one but for only 7 dollars it seems worth a shot.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2010
Messages
3,976
Location
UK
I already explained that to the best of my capability.
Yes I did note in my last post the edit where you explained. Something strange happening with Firefox browser or cafe server as replies do not seem to be delivered and then they appear so sorry if I confused anyone
 
Joined
Mar 8, 2009
Messages
5,175
Location
florida's east coast
Thanks for the replies. I'll try these options. And thanks for the efforts. It's not that I'm "Not a computer person" I can't reason with a machine and have always had issues with how arbitrary they are to me. It has created problems for me including the time it cost me a job. Kind of like my elevator issue, but that's a whole 'nuther story. Thanks again!
 

Latest posts

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Nikon Cafe is a fan site and not associated with Nikon Corporation.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Forum GIFs powered by GIPHY: https://giphy.com/
Copyright © Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom